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Research funding issues front and center at yesterday’s question period

April 22, 2009

As Jim rightly observes:

“Question Period always begins with the Leader of the Opposition asking the first 3 questions. These questions are on topics that are considered to be urgent or pressing. Yesterday, all 3 questions were on Research. Mr. Garneau followed with 2 questions related to the Aerospace industry. Five questions on research and science and technology is a first.”
For more see this but also Rob. Here is an excerpt of the exchange.

Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker,

the Bank of Canada now says that the recession will be deeper than the government anticipated. That makes it all the more important to create the jobs of tomorrow today, yet the government has done nothing but cut. It cut $148 million from our three research councils. It cut Genome Canada from the budget altogether. It cut research funding each year since it took office in real terms.
How can we expect to get recovery from a government that has so little confidence in Canada’s scientific community?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, actually, nothing could be further from the truth. This government, in budget 2009, increased funding for science and technology by $5.1 billion. That is more money for our researchers, more money for our research institutions, and more money for the granting councils because we believe in science and we believe in innovation.
Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, … Let me try again on science. The U.S. is investing six times more per capita in science than we are. What are we doing? Genome Canada is cancelling major stem cell research. We are losing top talent to other countries. That is the legacy of the Conservative budget cuts.
Why has the government lost faith in Canadian science?
Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, under this government Genome Canada had a multi-year commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars. That is our commitment to Genome Canada and we are following through on that commitment.
Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, this is a desperate tactic by a government that led Canada to the brink of deficit before the recession. This government has cut funding for scientific research every year, in real terms, since it was elected. It has cut $148 million from the three research councils.
Why is this government starving our scientists? Why has it not given them the support they need?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, that is not true. In our 2009 budget, we increased funding for research across Canada by $5.1 billion. But when the Leader of the Opposition went to Ontario, he said, “We will have to raise taxes.” ….

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